A project of the Child Trends News Service supported by the National Science Foundation

How Natural Disasters affect Kids

ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Flooding in Maryland; wildfires in California; a volcanic eruption in Hawaii; hurricanes in Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas: Natural disasters seemed to overwhelm the United States in 2018. With the approaching wildfire and hurricane seasons coming up, how can these natural disasters impact your kids years later?

Researchers at the University of Melbourne studied nearly 25,000 elementary school students across Victoria, Australia, including those who were affected by the major bushfires there in 2009. They compared the standardized test scores of students who were highly impacted to the students who suffered low to no impact from the bushfires.

Social scientists found that the expected gains from third to fifth grade in reading and math were reduced in schools that had higher levels of impact from the bushfires. The study suggests that students may benefit from extra academic support in the years following a natural disaster or a traumatic experience. Parents should connect with school staff and community resources to find the best social and emotional support for their child.

Factors that can lead to reduced academic performance following a natural disaster include schooling disruptions when students need to relocate or change schools, or trauma-related disorders like PTSD that can interfere with a child’s ability to pay attention and learn.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Milvionne Chery, Writer; Roque Correa, Editor.

Produced by Child Trends News Service in partnership with Ivanhoe Broadcast News and funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation. 

(Sources: https://abcnews.go.com/US/natural-disasters-devastated-us-2018/story?id=59367683, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/cdev.13200)

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